By Emily Holden (@emilyhholden)
Today’s Washington Brief:
- New York's cities and towns can block hydraulic fracturing within their borders, the state court ruled in a case closely watched by the energy industry. Bloomberg reports the ruling may invigorate local challenges to fracking in other states.
Today’s Business Brief:
Today's Chart Review:
2013 Power Plant Coal Consumption
Mark Your Calendars (All Times Eastern):
Tuesday: George Mason Law SCOTUS review for energy and environment @ 8:30 am
Tuesday: Woodrow Wilson Center talk on Russia and Ukraine energy security @ 10:30 am
Tuesday: CSIS talk on EU energy security and transatlantic cooperation @ 1 pm
Wednesday: International Energy Agency webinar on "More Data, Less Energy" @ 7:30 am
Friday: Federal Holiday--Fourth of July!
12-13: Natural Gas
14: Utilities and Infrastructure
OPINIONS, EDITORIALS, PERSPECTIVES
19: Wall Street Journal
RESEARCH REPORTS, ISSUE BRIEFS, CASE STUDIES
21: Interior Department Office of Inspector General
1) Anti-Fracking Win in N.Y. Court May Deal Blow to Industry
2) Energy Sector Faces Attacks From Hackers in Russia
from New York Times by Nicole Perlroth
Russian hackers have been systematically targeting hundreds of Western oil and gas companies, as well as energy investment firms, according to private cybersecurity researchers. The motive behind the attacks appears to be industrial espionage — a natural conclusion given the importance of Russia’s oil and gas industry, the researchers said. The manner in which the Russian hackers are targeting the companies also gives them the opportunity to seize control of industrial control systems from afar, in much the same way the United States and Israel were able to use the Stuxnet computer worm in 2009 to take control of an Iranian nuclear facility’s computer systems and destroy a fifth of the country’s uranium supply, the researchers said.
3) Georgia Coal-to-Solar Pivot Shows the Way on Climate Regs
4) Bakken Shale Oil Drillers Are Forced to Burn Off Excess Gas
from Wall Street Journal by Chester Dawson
...The well is one of thousands dotting the landscape and producing gas as a byproduct of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for oil in the Bakken Shale. Because North Dakota lacks adequate infrastructure, drillers are forced to burn off whatever they can't capture and ship to market. In April alone, such wells burned 10.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the state, valued at nearly $50 million. As flaring wells spread like a prairie fire, North Dakota's regulations have struggled to keep pace. Beyond being an eyesore, burning off natural gas degrades air quality. Critics also say producers aren't paying all the royalties and taxes owed on the gas that is flared. Energy companies lose out on gas revenue, too, but that is offset by what they generate from Bakken crude oil.
5) Supreme Court won't hear dispute over Calif. fuel standard
from E&E by Jeremy P. Jacobs
The Supreme Court declined today to take up a challenge from ethanol producers and other groups to California's low-carbon fuel standard in a major win for the state's efforts to address climate change. More than 20 states and groups -- including the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Renewable Fuels Association and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Association -- had asked the high court to review a federal appeals court ruling upholding California's regulations -- the first of their kind in the country. The regulations were developed under California's landmark 2006 global warming law, A.B. 32, which seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the state to 1990 levels by 2020.
6) Is Climate a Material Risk? Here’s What Companies Are Really Reporting
from Bloomberg by Tom Randall
How many companies think climate change will have a material impact on their business? Not too many, apparently. Roughly half of the 3,000 biggest publicly traded companies in the U.S. say mum’s the word, reporting zilch in their annual filings to U.S. regulators. A new online tool makes it easy to find which companies are disclosing climate-change risks -- both the direct impacts to the environment and indirect risks from tougher curbs on pollution. The tool, created by investment-advisory group Ceres and CookESG Research, scours SEC filings of the biggest American companies, included in the Russell 3000 index.
7) U.S. Stock-Index Futures Rise on China Manufacturing Data
8) Following long ban, U.S. could dominate global light oil supply
from Reuters by Edward McAllister
After decades of isolation, the United States is set to become a major player in the global trade of ultra light oil as recent government export approvals attract interest across the world. Following rulings disclosed this week, U.S. companies can now export the light, gaseous petroleum known as condensate after a forty-year ban, giving them access to needy markets in Latin America and Asia and potentially threatening the dominance of other established producers in the Middle East and Africa.
9) U.S. Shale Will Drive LPG Ship Market Growth, Latsco Says
10) Ex-BP exec can be tried for obstructing Congress
from Houston Chronicle (AP)
A federal appeals court in New Orleans says a former BP executive can be tried on a charge that he obstructed a Congressional investigation into the 2010 Gulf oil spill. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision posted Monday reversed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt. The case involves allegations that David Rainey failed to disclose information from BP PLC indicating that the amount of oil gushing into the Gulf after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion could have been far higher than estimates that were being made publicly.
11) Rising costs eat into returns even with high oil prices, IHS says
from Houston Chronicle by Collin Eaton
Oil producers are making less for the capital they’re spending than they did a decade ago, when U.S. benchmark crude prices were below $30 a barrel, a new report concludes. A study of more than 80 oil companies showed they made an average 8.6 percent in returns on average capital employed last year, and 11 percent in 2012 — both lower than exploration-and-production returns in 2001, according to a report released Friday by IHS.
12) Fracking study finds new gas wells leak more
from Houston Chronicle by Seth Borenstein (AP)
In Pennsylvania’s gas drilling boom, newer and unconventional wells leak far more often than older and traditional ones, according to a study of state inspection reports for 41,000 wells. The results suggest that leaks of methane could be a problem for drilling across the nation, said study lead author Cornell University engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea, who heads an environmental activist group that helped pay for the study. The research was criticized by the energy industry.
13) China fuels new boom in natural gas
from E&E by Coco Liu
If Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang's recent visit to Britain sent out any signals, one of the strongest might be that China wants more natural gas. Among dozens of bilateral cooperation agreements ranging from energy and technology to infrastructure, British oil major BP PLC signed a deal worth around $20 billion to supply China National Offshore Oil Corp. with liquefied natural gas cargos, accounting for over two-thirds of total deals signed in June between the two national economies by value.
Utilities and Infrastructure
14) Is Duke Energy following its home state's turn to the right?
from E&E by Hannah Northey
Jim Rogers is burnishing his reputation as an influential former utility executive willing to prod the industry to tackle climate change and embrace a cleaner, smarter grid. But he admits his calls to action -- and his legacy following a seven-year run as CEO of the politically powerful Duke Energy Corp. -- are on shaky ground in North Carolina, where a conservative takeover is complicating green policymaking and climate action.
15) GE Touts Green As it Veers Into Coal
from Wall Street Journal by Ted Mann
Nine years of investments in efficiency and environmental sustainability have been good business for General Electric even as the conglomerate prepares to take a major global role in one of the dirtiest of fuels: coal.
In a public “letter on sustainability” released Monday, GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt hailed nearly a decade of what the company calls its “Ecomagination” program — an effort to direct research dollars into improving efficiency and limiting the climate-harming pollution given off by its heavy industrial products like jet engines, power turbines, and locomotives. The program has been a great success, the company said, alongside corporate efforts to cut GE’s own power, water and fuel use. Yet thanks to GE’s impending takeover of most of the energy assets of France-based Alstom — a deal championed by Mr. Immelt that drives toward a critical goal of his corporate legacy — the company could soon be a major global player in the business of coal-fired power plants, a major producer of the pollutants believed to cause climate change.
16) Renewables to Get Most of $7.7 Trillion Power Investments
17) Receding Lake Mead poses challenges to Hoover Dam's power output
from E&E by Rod Kuckro
For more than 77 years, the iconic Hoover Dam has been producing dependable and cheap electricity for millions of customers in the Southwest. In today's climate, the fact that hydropower is both renewable and carbon-free makes the federal dam and others like it across the West that much more integral to any national policy to control CO2 emissions. But the water level of Lake Mead behind the dam that straddles Arizona and Nevada has been in a steady decline and is already affecting electricity production at the man-made wonder, which was both the largest concrete structure ever built and the largest hydro plant in the world when it was turned on in 1936.
18) Cape Wind Getting $150 Million Energy Department Loan Guarantee
OPINIONS, EDITORIALS, PERSPECTIVES
19) Memo to Anti-Coal Warriors: Make Nuclear Peace
from Wall Street Journal by William Tucker
...It is ridiculous to think we can go into the Industrial Belt of the Midwest and tell people they must close down coal plants without anything to replace them. Natural gas is offered as an alternative, but with gas leading a manufacturing revival, pressure building to export it, and attempts under way to substitute gas for gasoline in our cars, who knows how long the price will remain low? We should be building nuclear reactors right beside every old coal plant.
RESEARCH REPORTS, ISSUE BRIEFS, CASE STUDIES
20) Dragonfly: Western Energy Companies Under Sabotage Threat
An ongoing cyberespionage campaign against a range of targets, mainly in the energy sector, gave attackers the ability to mount sabotage operations against their victims. The attackers, known to Symantec as Dragonfly, managed to compromise a number of strategically important organizations for spying purposes and, if they had used the sabotage capabilities open to them, could have caused damage or disruption to energy supplies in affected countries. Among the targets of Dragonfly were energy grid operators, major electricity generation firms, petroleum pipeline operators, and energy industry industrial equipment providers. The majority of the victims were located in the United States, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Poland. The Dragonfly group is well resourced, with a range of malware tools at its disposal and is capable of launching attacks through a number of different vectors. Its most ambitious attack campaign saw it compromise a number of industrial control system (ICS) equipment providers, infecting their software with a remote access-type Trojan.
21) Onshore Oil and Gas Permitting, U.S. Department of the Interior
from Interior Department Office of Inspector General
In assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of the drilling permit process for oil and gas wells, we found that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approves thousands of permits each year, but review times are very long. Although oil and gas operators share responsibility for this situation, inefficiencies in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) review process impede productivity. We identified a number of improvements, however, that would expedite the review process and still maintain quality.
22) Climate engineering reconsidered
Stratospheric injection of sulphate aerosols has been advocated as an emergency geoengineering measure to tackle dangerous climate change, or as a stop-gap until atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are reduced. But it may not prove to be the game-changer that some imagine.